Windows 2 Work at CRCF
By: Hannah Gottschalk, VWW Justice-Involved Services Program Support Specialist
While at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF), women can participate in the in-facility work program Windows 2 Work (W2W). Through W2W, participants are paid to work facility jobs like sanitation and the kitchen. Vermont Works for Women (VWW), whose Justice-Involved Services Staff manage the worker program, is proposing a new model of job payment. The proposed change would create an employment system more representative of ones in the community by allowing for pay raises within a job.
Currently, CRCF operates using a Tier-based model for jobs and payments. In this model, jobs are divided into three tiers, Tier 1-3, and the pay varies between each tier. Tier 1 jobs are more entry-level like unit cleaner or unit laundry and are paid $3.50 to $5.00 per day. Tier 2 jobs like hallway or medical cleaner pay $5.00 per day. Tier 3, the more technical jobs, like floor buffer, law librarian, and kitchen cooks are paid $7.00 to $8.00 per day.
In this model, workers only earn a raise by being promoted to a new tier which also means moving to a new job. Participants are unable to gain raises within a particular job, as often seen in employment models outside of the facility.
The Pay Scale Model
In VWW’s proposed Pay Scale Model, each job would have a pay scale, allowing participants to increase their daily earnings while staying within the same job. There would be two categories of jobs, entry tier and advanced tier. Generally, entry tier would include the jobs formerly referred to as Tier 1 jobs, and the advanced tier would be Tier 2 and 3 jobs. Entry Tier jobs would start at $3.00 per day, and the pay scale would go up to $5.00 per day. Advanced Tier jobs would start at $5.00 day with the opportunity to increase daily earnings to $8.00 per day.
A participant would still be able to advocate for a raise. After 90 days in a job, they would be eligible for a $.50 raise. Then biannually following the initial raise, they would be assessed for additional raises. This new model would allow participants to stay in a job and gain raises over time rather than having to move on to a new job to do so.
Benefits of In-Facility Jobs
In-facility jobs not only provide individuals with money, but they also help prepare people for release and reentry into the community. Participants can learn and practice skills critical to most jobs – like accountability, time management, and responsibility – as well as more technical skills like cooking and cleaning.
A Brookings report highlighted recent findings on the impacts of employment programming while incarcerated on post-release employment. They found that those who held in-facility jobs had an increased likelihood of post-release employment. By preparing people with jobs while incarcerated, they can become better able to succeed in finding employment once released. Employment is important for many reasons; income, increased stability, benefits, etc., but for those who are formerly incarcerated it can also mean a lower likelihood of recidivism.
Programs like W2W are also especially important as the rates of joblessness among formerly incarcerated individuals are much higher than those of the general population. A report by the Prison Policy Initiative showed that joblessness among this population hovers around 60% from the time of release to four years post-release. Providing participants with jobs and programs while in prison can help to prepare them for jobs back in the community and hopefully lower that 60% number.
For the W2W program at CRCF, VWW has attempted to recreate the job application and attainment process as best as possible. Participants apply to jobs and can be promoted over time. The jobs can also then be added to participant’s resumes to be used post-release when they are looking for jobs in the community. By switching to the pay scale model, W2W will become even more realistic as participants will be eligible for raises within the jobs they hold, like many community jobs. Our goal is to best prepare our participants for successful reentry and re-integration into the community.